It’s that achy muscles, nasal drip, headache, sore throat, fever, fatigue time of year! For children, it’s more commonly the earache, nausea, vomiting time of year. Most of us are familiar with the flu blues. Despite our best efforts to keep our families healthy, the flu still gets into our schools, workplaces, and homes.
Each year, many flu viruses go around, and they are constantly changing. Christine Steffich, the pharmacy manager at Downtown Pharmasave, commented that the 2016‒2017 flu was 42% effective. The percentage is at the low end of the highest range of efficacy―40 to 60%―for the vaccine. But even at only 42% efficacy, she added, it’s still known to reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths from flu-related illnesses. This year’s vaccine contains a different strain than last year’s combination in the hope that it will be more effective against the latest mutation of the virus.
Although the statistics are different in Canada due to a less dense population, stats show that in the United States, every year 260,000 people are hospitalized annually from the flu. Thousands of cases are fatal, with a range of 3,300 to 48,000 fatalities depending on the virus that circulates each year.
People are infectious during the incubation period, which is 24 to 72 hours. Adults remain infectious for 3 to 5 days after onset of symptoms, and children for up to a week after onset. Immunity to the flu after vaccination can take up to 2 weeks, so it is recommended to get the vaccine as early in the season as possible.
The following people are considered to be at greatest risk of complications from the flu and can receive a publicly-funded influenza vaccine. Those who are most vulnerable include
- people who are over 65 years and their caregivers
- people who with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
- healthcare workers
- emergency responders
- healthy children from 6 months to 5 years old
- household contacts and caregivers of children from birth to less than 5 years of age
- pregnant women
- residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
- owners and operators of poultry farmers
- Aboriginal people
- people who are very obese (with a body mass index of 40+)
- corrections officers and inmates in provincial correctional institutions
- people who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings that house high-risk persons (e.g., crew on ships)
- visitors to healthcare facilities
Most immunocompetent people will be able to fight off the influenza, but for those who wish to receive their shot, the vaccine costs $26.99.
What to do to if you feel vulnerable and want to avoid the flu? The Uptown and Downtown Pharmasave stores have begun this season’s flu shots. So far this year, the Downtown Pharmasave has administered 340 vaccines and the Uptown Pharmasave about 250 vaccines.
Please Note: Pharmacists are not certified to vaccinate children under 5 years old. Parents of young children can ask their doctors for vaccinations or can visit the nurse at the Public Health Unit located behind the hospital at 1-137 Crofton Road. Call 250-538-4880.
Uptown Pharmasave pharmacists are available to give shots from 10:30 to 12pm and 3 to 5pm Monday to Friday. If you want to get your shot at the Uptown location, call ahead of time to make your appointment at 538-0323 with Lynn Vanderwekken, Sneh Parikh, or Peter Parker.
If you want to get your shot at the Downtown Pharmasave location with Christine Steffich, Barb Hetherington, or Henry Lopez, you can walk in at any time. This location has turned people away if they’re too busy, but if you’re willing to wait a bit, you can stay and get your vaccine during that visit.